I was sent the cookbook The Arabian Nights Cookbook: From Lamb Kebabs to Baba Ghanouj, Delicious Homestyle Middle Eastern Cooking by Habeeb Salloum from Tuttle Publishing.
It focuses primary on recipes in the Arab Gulf region and has to be one of the most beautiful cookbooks I’ve seen in a long time.
I was pressed for time this week to look for dinner options for our Mawlid al Nabi celebration tonight and took the cookbook with me on the bus to work. Mawlid al Nabi commemorates the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), in Saudi Arabia. This annual Islamic holiday is celebrated by many Muslims around the world.}
On the bus, I caught my seat mate leaning in, reading over my shoulder. When we reached our destination, she had already asked where she can buy it. The photos were so eye catching that she couldn’t resist.
The book is broken up into the traditional chapters (salad, soup, chicken, seafood, drinks, desserts, etc) and includes an opening chapter on popular condiments and pickles. The intro is a well written explanation of the diversity of modern Arab Gulf cooking, followed up with useful tools and essential ingredients. Reading the chapter on the spices, nuts and vegetables unique to the region made me long for the smells I experienced in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey.
The recipes include tips and notes on everything from how to stuff a lamb to which meals are best served family style. The stunning chapter introductions explain the dishes and their influences from surrounding regions. The resource guide includes Arab stores country wide, where tools and ingredients can be found.
I’d like to share the recipe for the Creamy Tomato and Chickpea Soup. But you don’t have to wait for the annual Mawlid al Nabi to enjoy this yummy delicious meal, you can make this anytime.
(Readers of the blog will note the similarities of this dish to the Egyptian Tomato and Chickpea Soup we made a few years ago. This version includes a few differences. Most notably, the addition of fresh cilantro, an herb introduced historically by Western Asia to the area.)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 minced onions
4 cloves garlic, crushed to paste
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
6 cups water
2 cups stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Pinch of ground red pepper
Pour the oil into a large saucepan with a lid and place over medium heat. Add the coriander leaves and onion and saute for 10 minutes, uncovered.
Add the remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool, slightly.
Next, purée, then return to the saucepan, adding more water if desired. Reheat and serve.
We served our soup with a side of naan bread.
To enjoy more Arab food we have tried, please check out
Or stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see out more recipes from the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region.
Be sure to check out the book The Arabian Nights Cookbook: From Lamb Kebabs to Baba Ghanouj, Delicious Homestyle Middle Eastern Cooking by Habeeb Salloum from Tuttle Publishing or ask for it a your local bookstore, library or Amazon.